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150 Years of Impact

Yates-Richard Wins Ford Foundation Fellowship

The award provides one year’s research support for early-career minority scholars.

May 11, 2018 — Article by: Carol Boll


Meina Yates-Richard

Meina Yates-Richard, assistant professor of English in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has received a Ford Foundation Fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year. The post-doctoral fellowship was awarded as part of a national competition to provide one year’s research support for early-career minority scholars.

Yates-Richard will use her leave to complete a monograph on the ways in which black maternal sound in African American and African diasporic literatures gives testimony to the legacy of slavery and associated trauma as well as functions as a site of possibility for imagining liberation. A specialist in 20th- and 21st-century African American, African diasporic and American literature and culture, Yates-Richard will divide her time during the fellowship among the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Paley Center for Media, both in New York City, and the British Film Institute National Archive in London.

During the fellowship year, Janis Mayes, associate professor of African American Studies at Syracuse University, will serve as a senior faculty mentor to Yates-Richard.

Yates-Richard says her research topic is an outgrowth of her doctoral dissertation. “I have always drawn more keenly to aspects of sound in literature,” says Yates-Richard. “I wanted to know why there was so much attention given to the aural, to sound, and what they might offer in terms of interpreting text.”

Much of her work has focused on the sound of slave mothers and the connection between their sounds of pain and the slave narrative. Material for her monograph will range from 19th century writings of Frederick Douglass to 2007’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” by Dominican American author Junot Diaz.

A member of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty since 2016, Yates-Richard has presented her work for numerous professional organizations, including the American Literature Association, Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, Issues in Critical Investigation Symposium, and the College Language Association.

At Syracuse, she has taught courses on women’s gender, and sexuality studies; global literatures in English; and on the varied roles race, place, class, and aesthetic norms play in creating diverse communities.

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Amy Manley